It seems like I was singing for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England only yesterday, but in fact it was a month ago. Scotland is a gorgeous place and its people are truly lovely. The pace of life is slow and gentle. And the whole time there my wife, daughter Linnea, and I were over- whelmed at how peaceful everything was; which upon our return to the USA made us see how violent our own culture is.
There is a member of this congregation who every time he receives the Body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper says to me, “Peace.” Throughout my 22 years of serving as a pastor I have heard several responses from people upon giving them the body or blood of Christ, but never “peace.” And I have often wondered why he says it. But, on my first Sunday back from my trip to Scotland, while distributing Holy Communion I came to this member and said, “The Body of Christ broken for you”—yet this time, for the first time that I recall, he said nothing, but simply took the bread and ate it. I found myself longing to hear the word “peace.” I missed it! The following Sunday during distribution I again came to the member and said, “The body of Christ broken for you,” and he looked up and right through me and said his familiar, kind word: “peace.” It surprised me and moved me. But more than that, I simultaneously felt as though I had heard a prophetic word through his word. I actually got disoriented for a second while my mind was spinning with what seemed like a message from God to build peace; though I’m not sure what that even means or would look like! Do you suppose God is calling St. John’s to build a system or a culture of peace so as to bring about a calming presence in our violent world? Could it be possible that God has called our congregation to create God’s peace in such a way that our ministry to and with the world is a salve for our wounded culture and aching relationships? Is it possible that our church is called to create a musical counterpoint to the violent song of society? Do you suppose?
My mind has been wondering about this ever since September 15th when the member spoke that prophetic word of peace to me. In fact, I requested the members of the Church Council to light a candle and sit in silence for a time and then ask God, “What is it that you are calling our congre- gation to do or be?” I believe that God the Holy Spirit is moving among us in ways that we are suddenly able to discern, and planting thoughts in our minds and whispering in our ears new and creative ideas. But not one of us has the whole message. And, perhaps, if we all would set aside a moment of intentional discernment, light a candle, and ask God to reveal God’s calling, we’d then be able to discern more clearly what calling God has in store for our whole church. Would each of you do this and then send me a note of what you heard, or felt, or even saw?